December 27, 2011 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
People who meet Juliet Scott-Campbell for the first time often tell her she must be a happy person. “I smile a lot and have an upbeat attitude,” she says. “In my profession, it really helps.”
A 1995 BMCC graduate and a registered nurse, Scott-Campbell joined the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) five years ago, working primarily in Washington Heights. It’s a job she hopes she will never leave. Those under her care feel the same way.
A sister’s encouragement
“I emigrated to New York from Trinidad at age 19,” she says. “My mom had come here first and then brought her children over.” Her sister, who would also become a nurse, was already enrolled in BMCC. “She said the school had a great nursing program,” Scott-Campbell says.
For as long as she could remember, Scott-Campbell had always wanted to be a nurse. “When I was a child my grandmother took sick and a visiting nurse came every day to care for her,” she recalls. “She was an inspiration to me.”
BMCC gave her a solid foundation, Scott-Campbell adds. “The school’s nursing program is one of the best in the nation, with high standards and great teachers.”
After graduating, Scott-Campbell earned a Bachelors degree in nursing at Hunter College while working in the HIV unit of the New York State Department of Health—initially as a clerk, and, after passing her state boards, as a public health nurse.
Later, she settled in as nurse in the ICU/CCU department of Brooklyn’s Brookdale University Medical Center. “After nine years, I realized that what I really wanted to do was community care nursing,” she says. “That’s when I went I went work for VNSNY.”
VNSNY is one of the nation’s largest and most respected home care agencies and Campbell-Scott is part of its CHOICE program, which helps clients and their families communicate with doctors, set up appointments, monitor medications and otherwise serve as case manager and advocate. The program will also arrange for home health aids to assist clients with shopping, cooking, laundry and other household tasks, accompany them to doctor’s appointments and arrange transportation for them.
A focus on teaching
“We work with the elderly, with families, and with individuals with health issues,” Scott-Campbell says. “Our aim is to help them stay independent, comfortable in their home and community, and out of the hospital.”
Apart from her clinical role, Scott-Campbell also functions as a teacher, instructing diabetic patients in measuring their own blood sugars, for example. “This is what avoids the need for hospitalization or a call to 911,” she adds. “If a CHOICE member has a problem, they’re encouraged to call me directly. I can often address their concerns over the phone or even stop by in person if I’m in the neighborhood.”
One of Scott-Campbell’s primary motivations for joining VNSNY was the opportunity to maintain ongoing relationships with her patients, and with their extended families. “When you work in a hospital, your contact with patients typically ends when they’re discharged,” she says.
Shifting gears on a moment’s notice
It’s not an easy job, nor are any two work days the same—but then Scott-Campbell thrives on variety.“Sometimes I’ll get up in the morning, plan my schedule, then get out into the field and receive a call that a patient needs me. So I shift gears and go see him,” she says.
Not long ago, Scott-Campbell made an unscheduled visit to a diabetic patient, who passed out and became unresponsive. She called 911 and explained that the man’s blood sugar level had spiked. Had she not been there, he wouldn’t have survived.
Throughout her nursing career, Scott-Campbell’s husband Michael has been a steady and indispensable source of support, she says. “By the time I get home every night, I’m usually drained, but he’s always there for me. I couldn’t do this job without him.”
Despite the challenges and frustrations, being a visiting nurse offers exceptional opportunities to change lives for the better. “I had an obese patient who was terrified of falling, so he virtually never left his apartment,” Scott-Campbell recalls.
“When I enrolled him in the program, I arranged for him to have physical therapy, got him a walker and wheelchair.” That was two years ago; her patient has since graduated to a cane, walks outside most days and goes to church every Sunday.
“He talks about VNSNY all the time,” says Scott-Campbell. “It really makes me smile.”